Quick trivia: How many MLB teams lost less games last September than the San Diego Padres? Answer: ZERO.
The Rockies were on fire in September, the Yankees naturally had a solid month, and the Braves gave us a scare, but the nine losses the Padres had was tied for the fewest in the majors. What does this mean? Potentially nothing. Potentially...potential?
Let's face it. Unless the Rockies catch a Padre Pandemic in 2010, similar to the Dodger Drought of 09 and Diamondback Disease of 08, San Diego is of no consequence to Rockies fans. If the Padres are anywhere near the Rockies in the standings come September, the problem won't be with Bud Black's club.
As it stands, I expect the Padres to be better overall, yet have fewer than the 75 wins they managed in 2009. For the record, those 75 wins were 8 wins better than their Pythagorean win percentage. The improvement from their youth may be masked by regression in that area.
As I'm sure it does for many Rowbots, it bothers me when people assume the Rockies have a fantastic offense and terrible pitching based on outdated reputation. Don't make the inverse mistake with the Padres. They had a 96 OPS+ last year, 8th in the NL and above the league average of 94. Meanwhile, their pitching put up an 85 ERA+, better than only two teams in the NL. This team's strength is hitting.
Exhibit A: Jon Garland is San Diego's Opening Day starter. The same vanilla Jon Garland who was last place Arizona's fourth starter last year. Scary. I'll run through their roster after the jump.
The following personnel are accompanied by their CHONE projections for WAR and wRC+ or FIP. Pitcher WAR is from Fangraphs' Fans.
Essentially, only Eckstein is notably below average from that starting lineup. It isn't half bad, and a few of those players (Blanks, Venable and Headley in particular) could far surpass those projections.
Jerry Hairston, Jr. - IF/U: 0.2, 83
Scott Hairston was signed as insurance for the youngsters in the outfield. He would start if Adrian Gonzalez is traded, and may work into a 4-man platoon in the outfield. Otherwise, the bench is a sorry bunch. The CHONE projections are liberal with PAs, and thus, positive WAR. The entire bench is projected to be worth about as much as Jason Giambi
. San Diego also re-signed Josh Barfield
(who they originally traded for the departed Kevin Kouzmanoff
) - he will start at AAA and could push into the big club, as his position is the lone truly weak offensive spot in the lineup. That's if Matt Antonelli
doesn't finally live up the the hopes of Padre fans.
Jon Garland - 2.3, 4.21
Chris Young - 1.4, 4.50
For a team that is building through a youth movement, there isn't a lot of youth in that rotation. Only Richard and Latos could potentially surprise with a great season, though Latos showed signs of incredible ability last year. Wade LeBlanc
and Tim Stauffer
could get a few starts as well, though the team is listening to offers on Stauffer.
There's a reason the Padres haven't gotten much attention from Purple Row this offseason. Whereas I was always obsessed with the least talented team in the NL West in previous years (to guage our chances of getting out of the basement), they just don't matter this year. The offense is solid if not spectacular, the rotation is boring but has modest chances for improvement at the back end, and the bullpen is stout. But they won't contend.
Let's just not catch that Padre Pandemic, yeah?